The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a new initiative that could eliminate the requirement for an in-person medical examination for some Veterans and shorten the time it takes to process Veterans’ disability compensation claims called Acceptable Clinical Evidence (ACE).
ACE was developed by both the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) in a joint effort to provide a Veteran-centric approach for disability examinations. Use of the ACE process opens the possibility of doing assessments without an in-person examination when there is sufficient information in the record.
Under ACE practices, a VA medical provider completes a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) by reviewing existing medical evidence. This evidence can be supplemented with information obtained during a telephone interview with the Veteran – alleviating the need for some Veterans to report for an in-person examination.
When a VA medical provider determines VA records already contain sufficient medical information to provide the needed documentation for disability rating purposes, the requirement for Veterans to travel to a medical facility for an examination may be eliminated.
If VA can complete a DBQ by reviewing medical records already on file, it will use the ACE process. This would then expedite the determination of disability ratings – in turn eliminating the wait time to schedule and conduct an exam from the claims process. During a 15-month pilot test at one VA regional claims processing office, 38 percent of claims submitted were eligible for ACE.
The ACE initiative is a part of the VBA’s agency-wide Transformation Plan – a five-year, multifaceted organizational change that is based on more than 40 personnel, process and technology initiatives designed to improve claims processing. The goal of the Transformation Plan is to eliminate the claims backlog and process all claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy in 2015. To learn more about VBA Transformation Initiatives, refer to www.benefits.va.gov/transformation/. (Source: VA News Release 31 Jan 2013)
Tricare pharmacy copay update: Tricare pharmacy co-pay increases became effective Feb. 1. The FY 2013 National Defense Bill required Tricare to increase copayments on brand name and non-formulary medications that are not filled at military treatment centers. There is no increase on generic medications and many co-pays vary based on class of drug and where the prescriptions are filled.
For example, the co-pay for generic medications remains $5 when filled at a network pharmacy and a 30-day supply of brand name medication filled at a retail pharmacy goes from $12 to $17. Beneficiaries using Tricare Home delivery will pay $13 for brand name drugs, however home delivery is for a 90-day supply.
The greatest change in co-pays applies to non-formulary medications- a $25 dollar co-pay increases to $44 at retail pharmacies and is $43 through the home delivery system. For 2014 and forward, co-payment increases are tied to annual cost-of-living adjustments. For more about the pharmacy changes visit www.tricare.mil/pharmacycosts. (Source: VFW Washington weekly 1 Feb 2013)
Flags: The American Legion Post 70 has on hand American flags, all of the military service flags, POW/MIA flags, and S.C. State flags. Contact a member of Post 70 to purchase flags. The cost is $5.
American Legion Post 70: Meeting at 6 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month. For more information, contact Thomas Crisp at 940-2793.
American Legion Post 24 of Newberry: Meeting is the second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m.
American Legion Auxiliary – Unit 24: Meets the second Tuesday of the month at 3 p.m. at Post 24.